Who doesn’t want their life to be easier– or to make the life of a loved one easier?
Many of the everyday tasks our seniors have done all their lives can become more difficult as they age.
Some of these now more difficult tasks are essential to our senior loved ones’ daily lives and independence.
With 90% of seniors wanting to and achieving aging in place, it is important for family caregivers to help them find products that will allow them to live as independently as possible.
You may be familiar with some adaptations such as grab bars, but there are multitudes of products to assist seniors (and others) with everyday tasks.
Independence Impairments of Aging
All of us will face the changes that aging brings.
Family caregivers may be helping their senior loved ones navigate their world to accommodate their limitations as they age.
Functional decline as we age usually doesn’t happen overnight, but instead is a gradual process which can bring on physical impairments. Chronic diseases can make this decline worse.
Combinations of functional decline issues, such as low vision and arthritic hands, will make activities of daily living even more difficult to accomplish independently without accommodations.
These are just a few age-related impairments your senior may be experiencing:
- Impaired vision – your senior may have a vision impairment, such as a need for glasses to correct vision, have untreated cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration or low vision. Depth perception disturbances could make daily tasks hard.
- Joint pain or immobility – your senior may have a condition that affects one or more joints, including fingers, knees, hips, ankles, or upper body extremities. They may need help with range of motion for close-up tasks or reaching items as well as manipulating instruments used for tasks such as cooking or eating.
- Fatigue – your senior may be weak especially when standing for long periods required to complete a task of daily living such as cooking. Inactivity can lead to muscle loss and weakness.
- Gait stability and speed – steadiness on their feet in order to complete the task at hand or the speed in which they are able to move safely. Seniors who have gait disturbances may require the use of assistive devices such as a cane, walker or wheelchair which might inhibit movement to complete tasks of daily living.
- Hearing impairment – diminished hearing can impair their ability to respond to the environment safely.
- Cognitive loss – when thinking, sequencing, perception and processing abilities are impaired with the loss of cognition or memory, performing activities of daily living can become frustrating and unsafe.
- Medications – it has been found that seniors who take more than five prescriptions are at a greater risk for functional decline.
- Pain – seniors with chronic or acute pain will be limited in the activities they can carry out when pain occurs.
Interventions to Preserve Independence
Interventions are available to help senior loved ones cope with this decline in function.
There are many quick and easy accommodations that can be used to assist seniors when they try to complete their essential daily activities.
The suggestions we are listing here are in the form of products family caregivers and seniors can purchase.
There are other helpful solutions that involve home remodeling or renovations that can be done as well.
Because there are so many products available to meet the needs of home-dwelling seniors with which caregivers may not be familiar, we wanted to present some so that you can help your senior loved one be independent and safe at home.
Jar lid openers that can be wall mounted, one hand use, or sure grip openers
Different colors for measuring spoons, bowls, plates, cutting boards, etc for people with vision impairments to give contrast and read more easily
Item to hold plastic bag open to be filled
Large handled utensils for better grasping
Non-skid plates or precut nonskid mats to keep plates and bowls from sliding
Foam covers for handles of utensils
Cutting board with edges to keep food on board while cutting and spikes or vise to hold food in place for cutting
Plates with scoop sides to help push food on spoon
Rocker knife for weak grasp to make cutting easier
Covered spoon to prevent spillage
Cup holder, two handled cup and cups with lids to prevent spills
Gadget to open pop top lids like soup, canned vegetables and soda
Special floor mats that reduce fatigue or joint stress
Pull down shelving units that make it easy to get things off the shelf without a stepstool or reaching
Reachers to help get things not within easy reach
Furniture risers that go under table legs to accommodate wheelchair or bed for easier transfers
Talking clocks or watches, thermometer, and blood pressure monitor
Voice activated phone dialer
Pill reminders for smartphone or talking pillbox
Large print/buttons for calendar, computer keyboard, TV remote control and phone
Playing card holders
Doorknob extender turns round knobs into levers
Light switch knob to allow easier grasp of small switch
Recliner chair lever extender to make it easier to reach footrest control
Wireless remote control (maybe a smartphone app) for outlets to turn on/off lights or anything plugged into outlet
Button, zipper and sock pulls to help with independent dressing
Key turners-extensions for keys to provide handle for leverage
Specially designed pen that punches open blister packs for pills (“Wish I thought of it” invention!)
Handheld shower sprayer
Raised toilet seats
Toilet safety frames
Shower chairs and benches
Built up handle covers for toothbrush or hairbrush
These products can be found in a variety of places including home improvement stores, kitchen stores, or online at rehab or medical product websites.
Most of the products are very reasonably priced, especially considering the tremendous gain they provide for seniors to aid in remaining independent.
Making accommodations and finding ways to work smarter, not harder, for seniors who age in place will benefit their safety and your peace of mind!
Promise me you will always remember – you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. ~ Christopher Robin